Outcome 2: Taxes on tobacco were increased in seven countries.
During the ATCC project, ATCA provided technical assistance to a number of countries with a view to conducting advocacy campaigns for an increase in tobacco tax. Seven countries succeeded in doing so, namely, Botswana, Benin, Niger, Togo, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The details are as follows:
- Botswana imposed a 30% levy on tobacco products in 2013, which came into effect in February 2014;
- Benin increased tobacco tax by 10% (from 30% to 40%) in 2012;
- Niger increased the excise tax by 5% in December 2013;
- Togo increased tobacco excise tax by 5% in December 2012 to reach the ceiling authorized by WAEMU (45%);
- Senegal increased tobacco excise tax for the premium brand cigarettes by 20% in 2012, followed by a further increase in 2014 which raised the excise tax to 45%, impacting on tobacco pack prices by 150 F CFA;
- Sierra Leone announced a 20% excise tax increase in 2013; and
- Uganda increased the excise tax on economy cigarettes by 45.5 %, from UGX 22,000 to UGX 32,000 per 1,000 sticks in the 2013/2014 budget.
Capacity-building of different influential groups helped enormously in increasing tobacco tax in these countries. The case of Sierra Leone is a good example of how empowerment and advocacy could be useful in creating the supportive environment for policy change. The training of parliamentarians in Sierra Leone created the momentum for raising the tobacco tax by 20% in 2013 when in the recent past the tobacco industry had succeeded in reducing the import tax on tobacco from 79% to 20%.
A tax campaign was also organized in the WAEMU region in view of supporting the WHO regional initiative of revising the WAEMU tax policy which sets a maximum of 45% on tobacco excise tax in accordance with directive No. 03/CM /WAEMU. Two regional workshops were held involving non-tax specialists and tax and custom experts. The outcome was the strengthening of collaboration between custom and tax experts in Benin and Togo through the creation of in-country tax teams which help to monitor their tax systems, identify loopholes in the practice of tobacco tax collection system and eventually improve tax administration within the current WAEMU directive. Another success of the campaign was noted in Niger where SOS Tabagisme Niger which participated in the training programme held several advocacy meetings with members of parliament, finance authorities and other influential bureaucrats which led to an increase in excise tax on tobacco products from 40 to 45% in 2013.